New training programme to improve oral health in the sick and elderly

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The effect of oral health on an individual’s overall health and well-being is particularly apparent. Therefore, the National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS) is placing emphasis on training non-dental healthcare professionals and nursing home staff about overseeing oral care for patients.

Poor oral hygiene not only result in bad breath and caries, it can also lead to diabetes and possibly place the sick and elderly at the possibility of life-threatening diseases. Severely ill patients and those who suffer from a stroke or dementia and need assistance with daily tasks are particularly at risk of poor oral health.

Therefore, NDCS has begun to nurture healthcare professionals outside the dental sector to boost awareness of the importance of good oral hygiene for patients and pass on skills and tools to empower them in better managing patients’ oral health care as part of their long-term care.

Poor oral hygiene can result in bacteria entering the lungs, leading to medical conditions and/or worsening of certain medical diseases. Therefore, it is important for non-healthcare professionals to pay attention to the oral care of their patients so that they can help prevent them from possibly developing further complications, particularly for those who are already sick.

OHEP training curriculum involves training of non-dental healthcare professional to acquire knowledge on identifying and avoiding common oral conditions and executing a basic oral health assessment. A detailed oral hygiene care in normal adults and those with special medical conditions will be initiated too.

The OHEP training consists of CGH nurses from the high dependency and stroke unit, intensive care unit, rehabilitation and geriatrics wards as well as nurses from Bright Vision Hospital (BVH). As a follow up, training materials are designed such that more healthcare professionals can be trained across the hospitals about the importance of good oral hygiene for patients. This workshop was exceptionally crucial for healthcare professionals in BVH, as residents in intermediate and long-term care are often at high risk of oral health problems because of their other chronic and sometimes, complex current conditions.

NDCS has been connecting with seniors in the community through functional screening executed in school dental clinics but it is only available during weekends and school holidays. However, this is not extended to the frail and institutionalised elders in the nursing homes. Therefore, to deliver more timely care to elderly and frail patients, NDCS is raising funds to build a dental bus that include the relevant facilities needed to bring dental care to the doorstep of Singaporeans, particularly to the elderly and to those who need it.

Source: NDCS 

Participate in the upcoming QS Subject Focus Summit – Dentistry under the theme of “Changing Paradigm in Dental Education for Future Excellence” from 4-6 April 2019 in Seoul, South Korea.